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Аҟəа, სოხუმი, Сухум/Сухуми
Sukhum, Sokhumi
The Government House of Abkhazia, destroyed in the Abkhaz offensive on September 27, 1993
location of Sokhumi within Abkhazia
Sukhumi is located in Georgia (country)
Location of Sukhumi in Georgia
Coordinates: 43°00′12″N 41°00′55″E / 43.00333°N 41.01528°E / 43.00333; 41.01528
Region Abkhazia
 - Mayor Alias Labakhua[1]
Elevation 5-140 m (-454 ft)
Population (2003)
 - Total 43,700
Time zone MSK (UTC+3)
Postal code
Area code(s) +995 44хххххх

Sukhumi (Abkhaz: Аҟəа, Aqwa; Georgian: სოხუმი, Sokhumi; Russian: Сухум or Сухуми, Sukhum or Sukhumi) is the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast, which has been recognized as an independent state by Russia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and is regarded by all other UN member states as an autonomous republic within Georgia. Georgia considers the territory to be under Russian military occupation[2] The city suffered heavily during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s.



In Abkhaz, the city is known as Аҟəа (Aqwa) which according to native tradition signifies water.[3]

In Georgian, the city is known as სოხუმი (Sokhumi) and in Russian as Сухум (Sukhum) or Сухуми (Sukhumi). The etymology of these forms is disputed. The city was earlier known in Turkish as Sukum-Kale, which can be read to mean 'water-sand fortress'.[4][5] Alternatively, it has been proposed that the city had already before been known as Tskhumi in Georgian, and that all these forms (including the Turkish) find their origin herein. Tskhumi in turn then is derived from the Svan language word for 'hot'[6], or the Georgian word for 'hornbeam tree'. The competing etymologies have been used as putative evidence in the argument over the ethnicity of Sukhumi's historical inhabitants.

The ending -i in the above forms represents the Georgian nominative-suffix. The town was initially officially described in Russian as Сухум (Sukhum), until 16 August 1936 when this was changed to Сухуми (Sukhumi). This remained so until 4 December 1992, when the Supreme Council of Abkhazia restored the original version,[7] even though Сухуми is also still being used.

In English, the most common form today is Sukhumi, although Sokhumi is used as well by some sources, including Encyclopædia Britannica[8] and MSN Encarta[9].

Historically, Sukhumi was first called Διοσκουριάς (Dioskurias) by the Greek, then from the time of Emperor Augustus onwards Σεβαστούπολις (Sebastopolis)[10] until it became Sukhum-kale under the Ottomans.

General information

Sukhumi is located on a wide bay of the eastern coast of the Black Sea and serves as a port, rail junction and a holiday resort. It is known for its beaches, sanatoriums, mineral-water spas and semitropical climate. Sukhumi is also an important air link for Abkhazia as the Sukhumi Dranda Airport is located nearby the city. Sukhumi contains a number of small-to-medium size hotels serving chiefly the Russian tourists. Sukhumi botanical garden was established in 1840, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Caucasus.

The city has a number of research institutes, the Abkhazian State University and the Sukhumi Branch of the Tbilisi State University (currently functioning in Tbilisi). In Soviet times, it contained a renowned ape breeding station. From 1945 to 1954 the city's electron physics laboratory was involved in the Soviet program to develop nuclear weapons.

The city is a member of the International Black Sea Club.[11]


The Sohum-Kale fort in the early 19th century.

The history of the city began in the mid-6th century BC when an earlier settlement of the second and early first millennia BC, frequented by local Colchian tribes, was replaced by the Milesian Greek colony of Dioscurias (Greek: Διοσκουριάς), geographically the remotest that Miletus ever established. The city is said to have been so named for the Dioscuri, the twins Castor and Pollux of classical mythology. It became busily engaged in the commerce between Greece and the indigenous tribes, importing wares from many parts of Greece, and exporting local salt and Caucasian timber, linen, and hemp. It was also a prime center of slave trade in Colchis. The city and its surroundings were remarkable for the multitude of languages spoken in its bazaars.

Although the sea made serious inroads upon the territory of Dioscurias, it continued to flourish until its conquest by Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus in the later second century. Under the Roman emperor Augustus the city assumed the name of Sebastopolis [10] (Greek: Σεβαστούπολις). But its prosperity was past, and in the first century Pliny the Elder described the place as virtually deserted though the town still continued to exist during the times of Arrian in the 130s.[12] The remains of towers and walls of Sebastopolis have been found underwater; on land the lowest levels so far reached by archaeologists are of the first and second centuries AD. In 542 the Romans evacuated the town and demolished its citadel to prevent it from being captured by Sassanid Iran. In 565, however, the emperor Justinian I restored the fort and Sebastopolis continued to remain one of the Byzantine strongholds in Colchis until being sacked by the Arab conqueror Marwan II in 736.

Afterwards, the town came to be known as Tskhumi, a toponym which is frequently related to the Svan for "hot".[6] Georgian scholars sometimes explain it as meaning the "hornbeam tree" in Georgian. Restored by the kings of Abkhazia from the Arab devastation, it particularly flourished during Georgia’s "golden age" in the 12th-13th centuries, when Tskhumi became a center of traffic with the European maritime powers, particularly with the Republic of Genoa. The Genoese established their short-lived trading factory at Tskhumi early in the 14th century.

The Ottoman navy occupied the town in 1451, but for a short time. Later contested between the princes of Abkhazia and Mingrelia, Tskhumi finally fell to the Turks in the 1570s. The new masters heavily fortified the town and called it Sohumkale, with kale meaning "fort" but the first part of the name of disputed origin. It may represent Turkish su, "water", and kum, "sand", but is more likely to be an alteration of its earlier Georgian name.[6] At the request of the pro-Russian Abkhazian prince, the town was stormed by the Russian Marines in 1810 and turned, subsequently, into their major outpost in the North West Caucasus. Sukhumi was declared the seaport in 1847 and was directly annexed to the Russian Empire after the ruling Shervashidze princely dynasty was ousted by the Russian authorities in 1864. During the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878, the town was temporarily controlled by the Ottoman forces and Abkhaz-Adyghe rebels.

Sukhumi quay

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the town and Abkhazia in general were engulfed in the chaos of the Russian Civil War. A short-lived Bolshevik government was suppressed in May 1918 and Sukhumi was incorporated into the Democratic Republic of Georgia as a residence of the autonomous People's Council of Abkhazia and the headquarters of the Georgian governor-general. The Red Army and the local revolutionaries took the city from the Georgian forces on March 4 1921, and declared Soviet rule. Sukhumi functioned as the capital of the "Union treaty" Abkhaz Soviet Socialist Republic associated with the Georgian SSR from 1921 until 1931, when it became the capital of the Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Georgian SSR. By 1989, Sukhumi had 110,000 inhabitants and was one of the most prosperous cities of Georgia. Many holiday dachas for Soviet leaders were situated there.

Beginning with the 1989 riots, Sukhumi was a centre of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, and the city was severely damaged during the 1992-1993 War. During the Abkhaz siege of Sukhumi (1992-1993), the city and its environs suffered almost daily air strikes and artillery shellings, with heavy civilian casualties.[13] On September 27, 1993 the battle for Sukhumi was concluded by a full-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing against its majority Georgian population (see Sukhumi Massacre), including members of the Abkhazian government (Zhiuli Shartava, Raul Eshba and others) and mayor of Sukhumi Guram Gabiskiria. Although the city has been relatively peaceful and partially rebuilt, it is still suffering the after-effects of the war, and it has not regained its earlier ethnic diversity. Its population in 2003 was 43,716, compared to about 120,000 in 1989.[14 ]


According to the 2003 census, the population of the city of Sukhumi included:[15]

  • Abkhaz (56.3%)
  • Russians (16.9%)
  • Armenians (12.7%)
  • Georgians (4.2%)
  • Greeks (1.5%)


Medieval bridge over the Besletka river known as the Queen Tamar Bridge.

Sukhumi houses a number of historical monuments, notably the Beslet arcaded bridge built during the reign of queen Tamar of Georgia in the 12th century. It also retains visible vestiges of the defunct monuments, including the Roman walls, the 11th-century castle of Bagrat III, several towers of the Great Abkhazian Wall constructed by the early modern Mingrelian and Abkhazian princes amid their territorial disputes; the 14th-century Genoese fort, and the 18th-century Ottoman fortress. The 11th century Kaman Church (12 km from Sukhumi) is erected, according to tradition, over the tomb of Saint John Chrysostom. Some 22 km from Sukhumi lies New Athos with the ruins of the medieval city of Anacopia. The Neo-Byzantine New Athos Monastery was constructed here in the 1880s on behest of Tsar Alexander III of Russia. Northward in the mountains is the Voronya Cave, the deepest in the world, with a depth of 2,140 meters.[16]

Twin towns — Sister cities


  1. ^ Алиас Лабахуа вступил в должность мэра столицы (Alias Labakhua takes office of the capital's mayor), 18.09.2007 (Russian)
  2. ^ Abkhazia, S.Ossetia Formally Declared Occupied Territory. Civil Georgia. 2008-08-28
  3. ^ Colarusso, John. "More Pontic: Further Etymologies between Indo-European and Northwest Caucasian". pp. 54. Retrieved 2009-08-22.  
  4. ^ Goltz, Thomas (2009 (2006)). "4. An Abkhazian Interlude". Georga Diary (Expanded Edition ed.). Armonk, New York / London, England: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 56. ISBN 978-0-7656-2416-1.  
  5. ^ [1] (Russian)
  6. ^ a b c Room, A. (2005), Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features and Historic Sites. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, and London, ISBN 0-7864-2248-3, p. 361
  7. ^ [2] (Russian)
  8. ^ "Sokhumi". (2006). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 6, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: [3]
  9. ^ "Sokhumi". (2006). In Encarta. Retrieved November 6, 2006: [4]
  10. ^ a b Hewitt, George (1998) The Abkhazians: a handbook St. Martin's Press, New York, p. 62, ISBN 031221975X
  11. ^ International Black Sea Club, members
  12. ^ Dioscurias. A Guide to the Ancient World, H.W. Wilson (1986). Retrieved 20 July 2006, from xreferplus.
  13. ^ The Human Rights Watch report, March 1995 Vol. 7, No. 7
  14. ^ 2003 Census statistics (Russian)
  15. ^ Population censuses in Abkhazia: 1886, 1926, 1939, 1959, 1970, 1979, 1989, 2003 (Russian)
  16. ^ Voronya Peshchera. Show Caves of the World. Retrieved on 2008-07-29.
  17. ^ Уи атәыла ссир аҟны. — Аҟәа. 2006. Ад. 4.
  18. ^ Podolsk sister cities

External links

Coordinates: 43°00′N 41°01′E / 43°N 41.017°E / 43; 41.017

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Caucasus : Abkhazia : Sukhumi
Novy Afon Monastery
Novy Afon Monastery

Sukhumi (Georgian: სოხუმი, Russian: Сухуми) is the capital and principal city of Abkhazia. It has for the better part of the last century been famous throughout the Former Soviet Union as a prominent subtropical beach resort, complete with palm trees, botanical gardens, and citrus plantations, backed by the high alpine peaks of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

Get in

All persons visiting Abkhazia must arrive in Sukhomi to receive a visa from the Ministry of Foreign affairs.


Although most of the major sights of the city were destroyed by the war, Sukhumi's principal attraction remains intact: an almost tropical climate with beaches, mountains, lakes, palm trees, and the like. Also the ruins of the buildings, most famously the old government building, are an attraction of a sort unto themselves.


Sukhumi also has 4 restaurants, which cater mostly true to Caucasian style dining.


Thanks to the civil war and subsequent isolation of Abkhazia, the tourism from other parts of the former Soviet Union that formerly made up a significant part of Sukhumi's economy was largely ruined, but has recovered significantly in recent years. There are two hotels left in Sukhumi that still operate, catering to mostly Russian clientele.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Proper noun


  1. The capital city of Abkhazia.



Simple English

Sukhumi is the capital city of Abkhazia.koi:Сухум

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